Fortaleza, Brazil, September 26, 2007 -
The two teams are in unique positions in their part of the winner’s bracket where the ninth-seeded Salgados (Carolina and Maria Clara) are competing against three teams from the United States for a spot in Friday’s first semi-final. The Germans must defeat two teams from Brazil to reach the Banco do Brasil Open “final four” with a trio of South Americans in the lower half of the winner’s bracket.
After winning country quota and qualifying matches Monday and Tuesday, and defeating teams from Austria and Germany Wednesday, the Salgados face the biggest obstacle to start play Thursday when the Brazilian sisters challenge top-seeded Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States.
The reigning Olympic gold medal winners and three-time SWATCH-FIVB World champions, May-Treanor and Walsh extended their international Beach Volleyball winning streak to 31 Wednesday with wins over tandems from France and Belgium. For the SWATCH season, the Americans are now 43-1 for six-plus FIVB events with an 86-8 set mark.
With a combined age of 44 (Carolina 20, Maria Clara 24) as compared to the 59 for their opening opponent (May-Treanor 30, Walsh 29) Thursday, the Salgados will be looking for their first win against the Americans in three meetings in the first match between the two teams this year.
The sixth-seeded Goller (23) and Ludwig (21) will challenge third-seeded Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro of Brazil in their first match Thursday after opening with wins against teams from the Netherlands and Germany. While the Germans have posted a pair of SWATCH medal finishes this season, Talita and Renata have captured four gold medals and earned 10 podium placements together since forming their partnership in 2005.
Talita and Renata, who opened with wins over teams from Italy and Brazil Wednesday, hold a 5-1 edge in the series with the Germans, but Goller and Ludwig won the last match between the two teams eight weeks ago in Austria to advance to the Klagenfurt grand slam “final four” where the pair placed third.
The winner of the May-Treanor/Walsh match against the Salgado will play a team from the United States for a “final four” berth as fourth-seeded Jen Boss/April Ross faces fifth-seeded Nicole Branagh/Elaine Youngs. Both teams are coming off SWATCH podium finish five weeks ago in Russia where Boss and Ross placed second with Branagh and Youngs claiming the bronze medal. The SWATCH series between the two teams is tied 1-1.
The Germany-Brazilian winner will play one of the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour’s winningest teams for a spot in the semi-finals. In an All-Brazilian affair, seventh-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede play second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca. In 15 previous SWATCH meetings between the two teams, Juliana and Larissa have won the last 13 matches with Adriana and Shelda winning the first two matches.
With May-Treanor and Walsh sandwiched in the middle ($1,352,040 with 29 SWATCH gold medals), Adriana and Shelda are the FIVB career leaders with $2,201,965 in winnings and 31 FIVB titles. Juliana and Larissa are third on the SWATCH list with $1,213,350 in earnings and 20 crowns.
The last of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, 16 other women’s teams also remain in contention in the double-elimination Banco do Brasil Open competition with one defeat each. Following Friday’s semi-finals, the women’s medal matches will be played Saturday on the Praia de Iracema with the winning team sharing the $32,000 first-place prize.
The Banco do Brasil Open is the final men’s event on the 2007 SWATCH schedule with Wednesday’s qualifier determining the final eight spots for Thursday’s opening Main Draw rounds. With the women’s season-ending event October 31-November 4 in Phuket, Thailand, the men’s final SWATCH gold medal match this season will be Sunday.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS